Obviously, drilling and the infrastructure of roads and pipelines around wells will detrimentally affect the life above and below ground. Many of the areas where licences have been granted fall within the Maputoland-Pondoland-Albany Centre of Endemism – one of 34 areas of high biodiversity, receiving particular conservation attention, around the world.
Our rolling hills, grasslands and wetland landscapes could be transformed into a web of wells, tracks, wastewater ponds, pumps and pipeline infrastructure.
Besides the destruction which takes place on the ground, there can be intensive air pollution from drilling and flaring and from gases that leak from fracked wells after they are closed. Large numbers of trucks are needed to build and service the wells and to remove the gas, will create dust, air and noise pollution in previously peaceful rural areas.
South Africa is a water scarce country. Fracking is likely to have a serious impact on the water catchments in all the areas where it takes place. The 10 000 or more fracking wells in South Africa, could potentially each use 20 million litres of water.
Water used in the fracking process is mixed with a cocktail of chemicals. Some are known to persist in the environment, accumulating in food chains posing risks to human health and ecosystems. Pollution and contamination of water will have wide ranging impacts on agriculture, biodiversity and human livelihoods.
“Climate Change is the centre of all – more emissions will result in more impacts to mitigate and adapt to. This cost to society and the fiscus is too high to bear currently, without the ever-tightening grip from the backlash of nature. Without functioning ecosystems to sequester carbon (grasslands, forests) and to provide us with free goods and services (water, pollution filtering, air, soil to grow our food and raise our stock, temperature modulation, flood attenuation, new diseases to deal with) we will not be able to survive the onslaught that is to come.” Judy Bell, Environmental Consultant